Dominican Republic Travel Guide
Volunteer Travel / Peace Corps / Guatemala Travel / Dominican Republic Travel / Voluntourism / → All Tags
The National Peace Corps Association is now offering all-inclusive, 10 and 14-day travel programs to the Dominican Republic and Guatemala for those who want to help out, but can't take a year off to do so.
MPCA's Next Step Travel program features small group travel, hands-on service projects, and educational programs. Projects include connecting with returned Peace Corps volunteers to learn about their work firsthand, spending time volunteering in a Haitian batey (a sugar worker town) to improve the health of the community, and implementing ecologically sustainable projects in rural areas.
After last night's Emmy Awards, nominees, presenters, and winners were invited to visit the Emmys Gifting Suite, where companies like Aquaswiss, Tivo, and even Black & Decker were happy to exchange their products for some publicity.
Clare Danes, Damian Lewis, Hugh Bonneville, Tina Fey, Glenn Close and Ed O'Neill all took advantage of the gifting suite to score free gold and diamond pendants from the Hot Rock Jewellery, toys made by Beanpatch, New Balance running shoes, Matrix One Tablets, and lots more free swag.
Airport Restaurants / Airport Dining / Dominican Republic Travel / Restaurants / Food Travel / SDQ / → All Tags
A popular restaurant chain just made its very first airport debut, but if you were expecting something upscale you might be a little disappointed. The first ever airport Denny’s has stated to flip pancakes and scramble eggs for the first time, and it’s all going down at Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo—that’s in the Dominican Republic.
We're wondering how well their "Grand Slam breakfast" translates into Spanish?
Tax Refund Vacations / Travel Deals / Caribbean Travel / Dominican Republic Travel / PUJ / → All Tags
Tax day is coming, and you are excited not because you look forward to sifting through receipts and credit card statements, but because you're getting a fat refund...probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can.
If you crave a beachy retreat, treat yourself to a tropical trip to the Dominican Republic when that big fax tax refund comes in the mail.
Food Travel / Foreign Grocery Friday / Punta Cana Field Trip / Dominican Republic Travel / → All Tags
When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
Gummis. They are just so awesome. Like 'em or not, it's hard to deny that gummis are some of the cutest, easiest gifts to bring home from a trip, especially if we're talking unique Haribo shapes straight from Germany. But outside of Europe, gummis can adapt the local tastes too, which we discovered on our recent trip to the Dominican Republic, where we uncovered some Jelly Bananas from the back of a Gummi rack.
The taste: Ignoring the lascivious leer of the cartoon banana pictured on the package, we gave our tastebuds over to the addictive sweetness of these shockingly yellow treats. Sparkling with sugar crystals, they're very pretty to look at and luckily a heck of a lot tastier than the little Runts bananas.
Prime-Plane-Spotting-Map / Plane Spotting / Punta Cana Field Trip / Dominican Republic Travel / Caribbean Travel / Islands / Island Travel / → All Tags
Typically when you talk about going plane spotting, it usually involves some stealth tactics like parking far away or camping out on a barren hillside for the perfect picture. Never do you dream that plane spotting could instead involve chilling beneath a palm tree, with a Cinnabon in hand, but it does if you're hanging out at Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic.
Since the majority of the airport is open-air and thatched-roof, you have a view of the tarmac from almost every angle, but no better place than at the outdoor viewing area. It's a quick walk away from the food court (with its Wendy's, Cinnabon, Nathan's Famous and other more local chains), but it's close enough to the gates so that you can stand out there almost the whole time before your flight without missing the boarding announcements.
So how does Baryshnikov enter the pictures? Find out after the jump!
Video of our plane taking off from PUJ, back to JFK
Only a few days ago, we gave you a quick peek into Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) in the Dominican Republic, after landing on the inaugural Jetblue flight direct from New York. But now we have a comprehensive look at this extremely unique airport which, when it opened in 1984, was the world's first privately-owned international airport.
Now, with over 3 million visitors landing here per year, the airport is the third busiest in the Caribbean region, after Cancun and San Juan. Often Caribbean airports get a bad rap for having ugly terminals, out-of-date technology or just for being small and hot. You'll realize upon landing at Punta Cana however, that his airport is the complete opposite of those things. In fact, it gives major international airports around the world a run for their money.
Want to ring in the New Year by helping the world without sacrificing the necessary creature comforts? Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic recently announced the launch of their first voluntourism package which allows guests to participate in the island’s annual bird count with Dr. André Dhondt from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
Guests staying at Tortuga Bay and The Puntacana Hotel between Dec. 28 and Jan. 2 will be invited to partake in the yearly census of more than 25 indigenous bird species native to the Dominican Republic. The annual count is crucial to monitoring and protecting the health of the island's birds. Hotel guests will also have the opportunity to join Dr. Dhondt for lectures and tours of the resort grounds, including exclusive access to the resort’s beautiful Ecological Reserve.
Spend your holiday in a hammock.
When December hits, people get excited for snow, treats and spending time with family. But for many of us that translates into non-stop shoveling, nasty fruit cake and yet another family screaming match. Forget Christmas this year—and the stress that comes along with it—and head to the Dominican Republic.
And how about this for a relaxing non-holiday: an all-inclusive vacay at Excellence Puta Cana that costs $123 a night for stays through December 23.
Island Travel / Islands / Alcohol / Booze Travel / Trampolines / → All Tags
I got my hair cut this morning at a barber shop on Union Avenue in Brooklyn called Model Barbers, where Jack and Oksana work. I like going there, because I can practice my feeble Russian on them and they always correct my mispronunciations and grammatical errors. Jack and Oksana are from Uzbekistan, but they refer to the whole former Soviet Union as Russia and personally identify as Russians. No matter what bad thing happens in America, they'll remind you that things are worse in Russia. As I sit in the chair, they banter with each other in rapid-fire Russian, and I can only pick out a few odd words: rabota (work), kanyeshna (certainly), zhopa (ass).
It's hard to know whether the experts are giving you useful information or just the same old song and dance. That's why we're introducing Guidebook Says to commend or correct other travel media. Feel free to commend or correct us in the comments below! This week, we zero in on the Dominican Republic, a recent Field Trip subject.
Guidebook Says... "At airports, neither immigration nor customs officials pay much attention to tourists carrying an ordinary amount of luggage." -- Lonely Planet
Jaunted Says: Our single suitcase and carry-on were much more meticulously searched in the D.R. on the way out than when we passed through customs in San Juan. Zippered pockets were opened, books were flipped through, and at one point we were asked to describe the contents of a small clutch ("Uh... lip gloss?")
Only because of the guys in front of us did we know why: They had hid what looked like either fruit or cooked meat in their checked bags (wrapped in underwear, tee hee).
They came in the afternoon, great waves of dark-green sucking up all unoccupied space on the sand. We drew up our toes in horror. How dare they invade our beach? On a day this nice? The waiters and the towel guy looked on, impassive; by now, they're used to the daily invasion of hundreds of cruise travelers onto the Casa de Campo beach. The resort's relative emptiness prompted management to start offering nearby boats the chance to dump its passengers on its shores in the name of an "excursion" -- and so they came, clutching the ships' dark-green towels in their hands.
Unlike in the U.S., it is possible to go days, even weeks in the D.R. without being reminded of the recession, so long as you don't flip to an American channel or surf the Web. But the fingerprints of the downturn are everywhere, and not just for people on the beach during cruise hour. I had a lot of time to think about this on my last day on the island, in which not only was I confronted with the above deserted airport, I ended up getting a ride to the airport on -- kid you not -- a 55-passenger bus. Just me and the driver rattling around in there. So here are two things to expect in the new Caribbean economy:
More, but not always better, service. Tourist-facing business probably have a surfeit of workers even if they've gone through layoffs in the past year, but if you're looking for speedy service, maybe you should be vacationing in a McDonalds drive-through instead. Whether we were stopping in a local farmacia or a tony restaurant with a bilingual staff, we were helped in the same relaxed manner which, had we been in a hurry, might have annoyed us. But a downturn in visits is no reason to get snippy if you're one of the people who are still going. Willingness to check one's assumptions about the cultural value of time is a great thing to put in your carry-on.
Independent vendors getting more aggressive. The resort used to ban people who came to the beach to sell coconuts from hawking their wares; now they're allowed to play through. Truth is, many Dominicans' economic situations are in trouble unrelated to the recession, since tourist development mostly create jobs for either the very educated (which pay a living wage) or those willing to do manual labor (which don't); for most, that means supplementing licensed work income with unlicensed business. (Steven Gregory's The Devil in the Mirror is a great, albeit depressing, read on tourism and the Dominican Republic specifically.) You don't have to use local vendors, but most of them aren't out to trick you; they're just making a living.
My intent is not to dissuade you from visiting the D.R. or any other Caribbean destination; I had an incredible time and there are deals to be had if you are in a position to take them. From stargazing under a stand of palm trees to dancing a beachside merengue, the sights and sounds are the best souvenir. Still, tread lightly.
· Bruce Willis Won't Let Caribbean Economy "Die Hard" [Jaunted]
· Everyone Still Going On Cruises, Royal Caribbean Says [Jaunted]
· Dominican Republic Field Trip [Jaunted]
[Photo of La Romana International Airport by the author.]